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Theresa Daniel: Leading a thriving health and social care business in the UK

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By Anna Chibamu


BIRMINGHAM: Ten years ago, a Zimbabwean mother dared to live her dreams and launched – from her daughter’s bedroom – a health and social care business to take care of vulnerable people and the elderly in the United Kingdom (UK).

Today and thanks to hard work, perseverance and ingenuity, Wolverhampton-based Lime Healthcare (LHC) is one of the fastest growing health and social care businesses in UK.

Theresa Daniel moved to the UK some 20 years ago and registered Lime Healthcare in 2014 with the company becoming fully functional a year later.

It was not easy to start the business, but her determination, passion, perseverance, and an equally committed team, saw her through the many trials and tribulations.

In a recent interview with NewZimbabwe.com, Theresa said the company has now grown into three thriving and interdependent entities; namely Lime Healthcare Limited, Lime Healthcare Support Limited and Lime Healthcare Properties.

Capital to start business came from savings from her salary while working as a support worker, recruitment consultant, and then rising to human resources manager.

“It was not easy; I refrained from indulging in a luxury lifestyle even though I had the money. Together with my daughter, we lived from hand to mouth, making sure that I saved up our earnings,” she explained.

“When we started the business we got a huge contract, which helped us excel. We were transparent with our client, and they agreed to pay invoices on time each month-end and that made the business easy to run.”

Theresa Daniel – Lime Healthcare director and founder

She added; “We delayed having our own business building and used my daughter’s bedroom as an office.

“My daughter agreed to give up her bedroom as it was the biggest room in our home. The lounge became our reception and Tatiana, my daughter, became the receptionist.

“The community also helped us when we needed drivers; we had vans that transported staff to work and that was the growth of the Lime Healthcare (LHC) business.”

After establishment of Lime Healthcare, a different entity called Lime Healthcare Support came into being in 2018. Lime Healthcare Support later gave life to Lime Healthcare Properties which is focused property development.

For Theresa, the greatest experience she had with the new venture was when she was filmed by BBC, the national television, for the programme ‘Homes under the Hummer’.

“It is a triangle of businesses that are inter-dependent,” she explained.

“The support unit looks after the vulnerable people independently in their communities while the recruitment arm supplies staff to different healthcare settings such as Residential Homes, Nursing Homes, Supported Living, Day Centres, and other facilities where our services are needed.”

Explaining what led her into this line of business, Theresa said: “I have always wanted to work for myself, and I have the passion to work with the elderly and vulnerable people.

“The work is fulfilling; it allows me to nurture my desire to help others and earn a living at the same time.”

Her passion for the healthcare sector goes back to her time in Zimbabwe.

“For me it has always been healthcare. I worked for Surgimed Zimbabwe in Msasa (Harare) where I worked with my late mother who was my greatest inspiration,” she explained.

Theresa Daniel

“I then moved to work at Geddes Limited Prospect Park and was later promoted to work at the head office, Caps Holdings.

“I started as a receptionist and then became executive secretary for Human Resources Manager. I attained my experiences and skills from working with people.”

However, starting all over again after relocating to the UK was not easy.

“It was challenging,” she recalled. “I started working for various nursing and residential homes and hospitals as a Care Assistant and Support Worker in very challenging secure units, supported living, looking after young people … the list is endless.

“Life was not easy as I was studying, working and being a mother at the same time. I attained a BSc Hons in Project Management and Business Management as well as postgraduate in Human Resources and then an MSc in Human Resources Management.

“My life was a roller coaster as I wanted to achieve my set targets. I further studied for Health and Social Care Leadership Management (Level 5) course which is a requirement for to be our companies to be registered and regulated for their other company.

“The business was built with experience gained from Zimbabwe home and here in the UK. My goals in the health industry is making lifestyle changes for those who need our services, improving their quality of life, eliminating isolation and making it a reality.”

Inspired by my grandmother

Theresa said she was raised by her now-late grandmother who she said empowered her with life skills and dotted on her.

A hard worker herself, Theresa’s grandmother instilled these qualities in her at a young age and always said, “Theresa, I want you to become a strong and powerful woman with a good heart who helps other people”.

The illness and eventual deaths of her parents and grandmother back in Zimbabwe were part of the reasons she decided to venture into the healthcare industry.

“When me and my daughter Tatiana came to the UK, we could not go back home and when my mother and grandmother died, we were not there,” she explained.

“They were being looked after by relatives and this happened 2008/2009, that was the toughest year economically in Zimbabwe. That gap of not being there physically; that is the gap we want to fill for others who do not have care and support so that we make them comfortable in their own homes.”

She added; “When we are caring for the vulnerable and the disadvantaged or training our staff, we always put our minds to that.

“The approach is ‘care for the vulnerable the same way you would want your mother and grandmother to be taken care of’. We were not there for our parents and grandparents physically because of distance. For me, I want to fill that gap and give that love and care to others.”

Despite having established a thriving business in property and healthcare, helping many vulnerable people in the UK, Theresa says she there is still a lot more to do.

“For us, we are not yet even satisfied. We would really want to go far and help as many people as we can the world over,” she said.

As with any other business entities the world over, Theresa and her management team have experienced their own share of challenges, but they managed to overcome them.

“At first, our competitors would go to our clients and then the clients would ask us for a lower rate compared to what the competitor offered,” she explained.

“When we started, we had two massive contracts and another person reported us to our main client to say we were operating from the family home.

“We were transparent to tell them that we only are starting, and we are still looking for offices.”

She added; “The owner of the contract fortunately believed in us and said some businesses start from the garage; as long you deliver, we have no problem and that is what you guys are doing.

“They did not mind where we were operating from and after two months, we found ourselves beautiful offices where we are still operating from today and we have kept that contract up to now.

“The other challenge was to penetrate the industry. It is always not easy to establish yourself to get contracts.

On how Lime Healthcare has managed to stand out in a crowded and highly competitive industry, Theresa said “with my HR experience, and a combination of creativity and diligence we have attracted the best staff, some who have worked with us since 2015.

“My colleague Chrispen and myself put that structure in place where it is Recruitment, Training, Compliance, Bookings, On-Call, Transport and Payroll matters a lot in this business.

‘The business has the motto which is ‘No shifts go uncovered’. Our strong bookings team make sure that there is no shift that goes uncovered.

“The reputation we have with local authorities has made them refer other companies to consider to us in supporting and supplying them with the best trained staff.

“This is because each client is given bespoke services, matching candidate to client; it is about our competency, performance, reliability.”

Covid-19 and Russia-Ukraine war impact

Headwinds from the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the global economic mayhem caused by the Russia-Ukraine war also bruised the business like the rest of the economy in the UK.

“Yes Covid-19 affected us, but we had to continue caring for all,” Theresa explained.

“It (the pandemic) affected every business and everyone somehow. However, all our homes were covered with the support of councils we worked with.”

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has not spared their business too.

“Gas has affected us a lot in terms of cost of living. Fuel and gas prices have doubled. Generally, the cost of living has gone up,” she said.

“We used to have people from Ukraine and Romania who used to work for us but now we have been recruiting from Africa and most these people are failing to cope with the weather.

“It is cold in the UK and some are opting to go back home after working for a few days.”

Theresa and her management team are looking forward into growing the business internationally.

“I urged everyone who wants to open a business to have goals, to be strategic, to focus, seek consultancy, persevere and to be educated. An entrepreneur should be ready to take financial risks,” she said.

Meanwhile, apart from being Director of Lime Healthcare, Theresa is into poultry; she also keeps rabbits, turkeys, peacock.

“We grow own vegetables including chibage and muriwo wemhodzi. All this is in back garden of the family home in Wolverhampton.”

Theresa said has one daughter who has given her two lovely grandchildren who she adores and spends most of her weekends with.

She said the “my beautiful granddaughters keep me young and going. I love and adore my three girls. My hard work is their future and legacy.”